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Archives of Previous Studies

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May 23, 2019

Psalm 146: Praise God With Every Breath

After some comments on the Flame of Love devotion, our study of Psalm 146 starts with the psalmist's exuberant burst of praise which we explore in two directions, viz., in liturgy as the eternal loving work of God's people and the need to make use of the time we have on Earth according to Paul's admonition to "redeem the time."  The latter led to a lengthy discussion about why our spiritual lives seem to become more arduous as we grow close to God.

We go on to examine the psalmist's comparison of relying upon man to relying upon God and dwell on how God is not only all powerful and eternal but faithful.


May 9, 2019

Is 38:10-20:Deliverance From Certain Death and Ps 85: Promise of Hope and a Way Forward

The first half of tonight's study explores Hezekiah's canticle of thanksgiving in Is 38:10-20.  We examine the context, the interesting side bar that God left him to himself after his illness so that he could see and repent of his pride, several linguistic nuances sometimes lost in the English translation, and various verses that appear corrupt.  We also briefly review Sheol, discuss the idea of death at the completion of God's work in us and the challenges we often face for our own welfare.

The second half expounds Psalm 85.  We briefly review who the Sons of Korah were and posit a couple of reasons why there is both a statement that God's anger has turned away and a plea the He turn His anger away.  We look at some significant variations in translation, briefly touch upon the relationship between righteousness and the health of a nation, but spend most of our time discussing the differences between the Jewish and Christian perspectives on the promises in this psalm.  This leads us to examine the importance of Jesus as fully human and fully divine and the source of our righteousness.


April 25, 2019

Psalm 51: New Hearts, Our Gravest Peril, Opened Lips, and Renewed Sacrifices

We continue and conclude our study of Psalm 51 by showing how it is God's mercy to show us our sins and how this psalm appeals to both parts of the New Covenant.  We examine the grave danger of being cast away by God and losing the Holy Spirit as well as consider why God may not call some people now.

We move on to how recognizing our own sinfulness makes us capable of instructing others in righteousness without judgment and the need to pursue holiness in order to be able to proclaim holiness without hypocrisy.  We look at the idea and an example of a constructively broken spirit and how having a right heart allows us to offer pleasing sacrifices to God.


April 11, 2019

Psalm 51: Sin, Practicality of Condemnation, Perfection, Original Sin, and Conscience

This poignant psalm reaches so deeply into our humanity and our relationship with God that it provokes a wide range of discussion on core doctrinal issues.  In tonight's study, we touch on the nature of sin and how God is justified and entirely practical to condemn us even if sin is the way we are.  We discuss how important it is to keep our sins in mind especially as we grow toward perfection and how God's willingness to extend grace at every moment to support our perfection inspires us to see the magnitude of His love in every moment of our lives.  We follow with a discussion of original sin and sanctifying grace pointing out that, if we do not understand these doctrines, we do not understand salvation.

In our second half, we discuss the inviolability of conscience but also its need to be formed and to admit that our consciences may not be right.


March 28, 2019

Psalm 51: Background, Consequences of Sin, and Mercy

In this study of the great penitential psalm, we review the account of David, Bathsheba, and Uriah. We spend a great deal of time discussing sin, its progression, and its consequences both eternal and temporal and our sometimes distorted view of sin and punishment.  We then launch into the first few verses of the psalm itself with topics such as God's graciousness and its potential abuse through presumption, dealing with both sin and its causes, and our being aware of our sins.


March 14, 2019

Psalm 42: Thirsting for God

We begin our exploration of Psalm 42 by learning about the sons of Korah and examining the theme of God as the source of living water in both the Old and New Testament.  We then discuss several dimensions of our relationship with God including our love and desire for Him, our honesty with Him, and how our hearts and heads can get out of sync in our relationship with Him.


February 28, 2019

Psalm 40:2-14,17-18: Many Shall See and Trust

We cover quite a number of topics in this involved Psalm.  We discuss its background, why certain imprecatory verses are omitted in the Breviary, and how to view those imprecatory verses and psalms.  We examine possible contexts and how new and alive God's presence was to David and should be to us.  We examine evangelization through our example in difficulties and how this is a reason for embracing trials with joy.  We point out the important differences between the Masoretic Text and Septuagint in this psalm and its messianic nature.  We digress into the account of Saul and the Amalekites and the subject of loving obedience being more important than sacrifice.  We spend considerable time looking at the reference to this psalm in Hebrews 10 and its relationship to the New Covenant.  We touch on sharing our faith but also doing so discretely.  We look at examples of how sin can blind us and conclude with the importance of seeing our neediness before God can do great things in us.


February 14, 2019

Psalm 91: God Protects Through All Trials

In this study, God seems to draw us repeatedly to the theme that He does not save us FROM trials but rather saves us IN trials both in the sense of saving us in the trial itself and saving us by means of the trial as we explore Psalm 91.  We discuss much of the imagery — fowlers, pinions, eagles, bucklers — as well as possible ties to the Exodus.  We take a brief look at the role of angels and our need to not only be protected from evil but to be given the strength to battle against evil.  We look at what it means to cleave to God in love but we keep returning to the theme that, to love Him as He loves us, we must learn love through experience, not just knowledge and that experience is often given to us as the way to salvation by means of trials.


January 17, 2019

Rev 4:11, 5:9-10,12: Praise the Lamb Who Makes Us a Kingdom and Priests

In tonight's study, we look at a canticle of praise comprised of several verses in Revelation 4 and 5 used as the last of the psalms in the Evening Office for the Solemnity of All Saints.  We also examine the verses in between to gain context.  This leads us primarily to a discussion of how great Jesus is, how He is the bridge between the Creator and creation, the Mediator, the Way, how He Himself is the Gospel, and why we would burst into such praise of Him.  We explore some of the Old Testament images and themes used by John in Revelation.  We digress a bit about how our prayers and lives can be a pleasing aroma to God as well as on the Millennium and possible answers to the question of over whom the Saints reign in the Kingdom.  We then stopped the cameras and prayed the Evening Office together.


January 10, 2019

Psalm 116:10-19: I Trusted Even When Afflicted

This study spends a lot of time on the Psalmists' statement that he trusted even when afflicted including an example of this from the diary of Saint Faustina.  We spoke of the need to recognize bounty even in the midst of trials and looked at some statements from Saint Paul in this regard.  We examined some of the sacrificial practices mentioned and considered how seriously God takes affliction and even the death of His people.  The connection between love and trust was a persistent theme as well as how far and how deep that love and trust can go.


January 3, 2019

Psalm 110: God Exalts His Christ

We begin our study of this of this historically messianic psalm with thoughts on the love of the Father for the Son.  We explore Christian and Jewish understandings of the "adoni", the lord to whom the LORD speaks.  We explain some of the cultural allusions in the psalm and spend quite some time on Melchizedek, the priesthood of Jesus, and the references to Psalm 110 in the Letter to the Hebrews.  We conclude examining the shift in perspective at the end of the Psalm and the somewhat enigmatic conclusion.


December 13, 2018

Psalm 122: Awe In God’s Presence

We try to capture the awe and amazement of a pilgrim coming to Jerusalem to worship as we explore this Psalm.  This leads naturally to a discussion of the awe and amazement in our lives as Christians to have God ever present and the sublime wonder of worship in Holy Eucharist, Holy Thanksgiving.  We discuss the Church as the new Jerusalem and the temple of God, the implications for worship, and the need to build this new Jerusalem in peace and unity.  We digress to discuss the sacrifices of the Day of Atonement in Leviticus 16 to better understand the section of the Letter to the Hebrews that discusses the need to assemble together.  We conclude with a discussion of how it is God who makes the Church special.


December 6, 2018

Psalm 120: Weary of Wickedness and Psalm 121: God, Our Ever Present Keeper

Tonight's study starts with Psalm 120.  We use it as an opportunity to discuss verbal emphasis which is lost translating from Hebrew to English and ways in which we can try to recover that emphasis.  We examined the psalmist's lament over living among those who are wicked and then explored a Christian approach to the same difficulty.

The second half continued with Psalm 121.  We discussed how the Psalms provide a variety of human perspectives on the same unchanging God, God's persistence providence, and how sometimes it seems that providence is lacking.


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